Quiet Books for (Mommy) Groups: How to Organize

Quiet Books for (Mommy) Groups: How to Organize

Quiet Book Pages
Quiet Books are all the rage right now, and there’s no question why. They are great entertainment for your young one, there are endless possibilities for content, and they are a fun way to squeeze your creative juices.

There’s just one catch. They take a lot of time to make.

No really. A LOT of time.

You can absolutely buy individual pages or full books on Etsy, Amazon, or elsewhere, but there is actually a great compromise: employing people like yourself (a.k.a., mothers, fathers, crafters).

If you’re not a part of a mommy or parenting group, I highly recommend it, it’s been an amazing support network as a new mom. Everything from commiseration to classifieds, the resources are unparalleled.

And as for a Quiet Book, this is a great group activity and makes compiling a book significantly easier. I am going to refer to participants as ‘mommys’ but you could easily do this with dads, grandparents, friends, or just your local craft group.

Here are instructions for how to build a Quiet Book with a team of mothers or other groups:

The Great Quiet Book Exchange

Quiet Books for Mommy Groups

  1. Send an email to your group(s) feeling out interest in joining. Outline the parameters of the project. Here is some sample text, change the bits in green:

    Hi Friends, I need your help!


    I just learned about Quiet Books, and would LOVE to make one for my little one! Short summary: a Quiet Book is a hand-made felt book with different activities on each page for your baby to play with (quietly!).
    Here are some examples.

    Instead of making a whole Quiet Book on my own (which would take a LOT of creativity and time and resources), I thought we could get together with other moms who are interested,b and do this as a group activity? We each make multiple copies of one page (one for each of the moms). Then we get together and exchange pages! So everyone makes a page for all the other moms, so you end up with a book with many different pages.
     

    Let me know if you would be interested in participating, and then we can decide next steps! Even if you aren’t terribly crafty, there are lots of ways you can create pages without specialized tools or skills.

    Let me know by (date). We can be flexible on the deadline around everyone’s schedule. I think 2 – 3 months could work. Let me know if you’re interested and would like more information! 

  2. Create a signup chart, Google Sheets worked very well for us.
    You’ll need this for the next step, and live editing (rather than rounds of emails) is a great way to share responses. Here’s an example.
  3. Once you get a decent number of responses, send a new email with specific details to those interested
    Or use some other group chat/system (Facebook Groups, sub-group of BigTent, mailing list, pick your poison). Here is some more sample text:

    I am thrilled that there are so many people (number!) are interested in participating. Here’s a bit more information, and then we’ll need to confirm commitment.

    1. Please read this blogpost (if you haven’t already)
    It has a lot of background information and to get a better sense of what you’re signing up for.

    2. Consider the time commitment
    I can’t quantify exactly how many hours, but hopefully the blog post can give you an idea, and you know your own skill level.

    We can be flexible on the deadline around everyone’s schedule. I think 2 – 3 months could work. In the interim, it could be fun to work on our Quiet Books together. Maybe 1 – 2 sessions where we bring our supplies to one person’s home and share glue guns and sewing machines? Maybe a couple glasses of wine or some cookies? We’ll pick some dates once everyone is committed 🙂

    3. Consider the financial obligation
    Each participant will make 12 identical pages to exchange. This will likely cost between $20-$50 depending on your page, your resourcefulness, and what you already have. You are responsible for paying for all of your own materials to make your 12 pages. Also, it might be good if we each threw $2-$5 in so that we can get some small communal things like the rings to bind the whole book together, and a big puncher (like this one) and grommets/eyelets, unless someone already has one?

    4. Think about your page
    You don’t have to be a master seamstress, or an artist to be able to create these pages. There are many with iron-on adhesives or simpler construction. Remember, we obviously want to be thoughtful about our baby’s safety, so nothing they can pull off and accidentally eat, but there are plenty of options for people that feel craft-challenged. Here are some ideas.

    5. Feel out this Google Doc and confirm your commitment by (date)
    If you’re still interested, this is the next step to make sure you’re included in this project.

    After the (deadline), I’ll send around more details around the logistics of making the pages. Feel free to invite your friends, just send them the Google Doc link and have them sign up directly by (date).

    Please let me know if you have any questions, and thanks!

  4. Decide on a Deadline
    Once you have your merry band of misfits, you’ll need to agree on a deadline. Don’t worry, you will likely push it out at least once, but best to get started heading towards the same goal. We use doodle.com to create a scheduling poll.We suggested dates 2-3 months out and settled on a 3-month deadline. At 2.5 months, we pushed it to 4 months. At 3.5 months, we pushed it to 5 months, and were firm. Commit or dropout (a couple did dropout). This is when we added the Updated Commitment field in the Google Doc.
  5. Decide on the specs
    We opted for a 9″ x 9″ page made of thick/stiff felt, but it doesn’t really matter, as long as everyone agrees. We had one mommy accidentally make all her pages on 9″ x 12″, and let’s just say…it was no fun remaking those pages. You’ll need to decide on:
    – size
    – base fabric
    – age target (baby safe)
  6. Optional: have a couple of in-person get-togethers to work on your pages
    We had two meetups to work together, and it was really lovely. In all fairness, there was more laughter and wine than progress, but it was really nice to put faces to names, and build comradery with the project. Some of us still are in touch and share stories together.It’s best to have it at someone’s home, especially someone with space. And everyone should come with a plan for their own page. This isn’t a great time/place to brainstorm or shop. Rather, come with all your supplies and cut, or sew, or glue buttons.Rather than sending out a doodle to find the best time, we simply had a couple people volunteer and set up times that worked for their schedule, and whomever could make it, great. Otherwise, there’s simply too many schedules to coordinate.
  7. Meet to swap
    This is the best part. Seeing all the beautiful finished projects. We started with 24 moms. In the end 14 mamas each made 12 pages. It also happened to be the day before Mother’s Day, making it extra special. Since all of our babies were born the previous year, this was our first Mother’s Day.We met at one mom’s house, we all brought potluck lunch items and mimosas, and we exchanged pages and had a “Binding Party.” Some moms had some final finishing touches to do, and were bustling to finish up until the deadline.We also had purchased, as a group, a punch, eyelets, and book rings to “bind” our books. So while we were socializing we were also compiling the books. It was a very special afternoon, and I am glad we gave each other a couple hours together, rather than just a quick swap.

 

A couple of notes as the organizer:

  • We had 24 moms initially interested, and only 14 complete the project. We initially thought we would divide the group into two, but as people dropped out, we were glad we were one group. You’ll want to adjust your number of pages according to the number of participants, but a good signup:completion ratio is about half.
  • We each made 12 pages, and since there were 14 people, everyone had 12 different pages, but there were two we didn’t get (each). The easiest way to do this is to have everyone sit in a circle, holding all 12 of their original pages. Everyone takes one from the top of their own pile, then passes the entire stack to the right (or left).
  • It is OK to extend the deadline. We did. Twice. We did one, last recommitment 2 weeks out, and lost 3 more moms. It happens. Don’t beat yourself or anyone else up over it.
  • Most moms didn’t think about a book cover through the process, but one mom did and she, by far, had the cutest final product. Perhaps around halfway through you could encourage participants to start thinking about Quiet Book Cover ideas.
  • Send lots of reminders! New mommys in particular are a hard group to pin down, but the reminders help.
  • Don’t try to send too much information all at once.

 

Quiet Book Pages Grid

College Advice to My Sister – Life Advice to Me

College Advice to My Sister – Life Advice to Me

Sometimes advice is a tough pill to swallow, even when it’s your own. It’s easy to assess what someone else should do in any given situation, but when faced with your own adversity you are suddenly paralyzed with the indecision of your own reality.

Kid Sister's High School Graduation

The chaos and pride of a high school graduation.

When my youngest sister went off to college my mom asked each of my siblings and me to record some advice for my sister to put into a scrapbook as a going away gift. This seemed a fairly innocuous ask, but as hours turned into days, and days turned into weeks I found myself collecting learnings as I walked to work, as I cooked dinner, as I planned my wedding. The list kept building, and more importantly, evolving.

As I read it now, three years later, sure there are things I would add, change, and prioritize, but more importantly I realize this list might actually be advice for myself based on where I was in my own life…a time capsule of reminders I needed and still continue to to need.

 

Advice to My Sister, Upon Going Off to College

(but really advice to myself)

UCLA NOT Harvard

The Harvard sign at UCLA when Legally Blonde was being shot on the UCLA campus.

 

  • No matter how great or terrible life is at any given moment, life goes on. If you’re scared, know it won’t last. If you are overjoyed, that won’t last either. Try to take a moment to pause and capture the highs, and power through the lows. Tomorrow will come, and all emotions will evolve.
  • You can get by on charm for about 15 minutes, after that you better know something (I didn’t write/come up with this). You were a big fish in a small pond, now you’re a regular fish in a lake. It is going to take significantly more to stand out, and being cute doesn’t cut it. Also, college is only a lake, once you graduate you’ll move to the ocean.
  • You are the ambassador of your own brand. Everyday, whether you like it or not, the world is forming its opinion of you. Each action, inaction, interaction and publication you have influences who you are and your future opportunities. Decide what you want your brand to be and act accordingly.
  • Always have questions and never be afraid to ask questions. Ever. Questions show you are paying attention. Questions are remembered. Questions only help you. The Hermoines run the world.
  • Say “Yes” as often as you can. Last minute roadtrip? Yes! Can I sit next to you at lunch? Yes! Date on a school night? Yes? Will you be my lab partner? Yes! Help someone with homework? Yes! Want to join my club? Yes! There is an art to saying, “No,” but you have to learn to say, “Yes” first.
  • I always say, “I’d rather regret the things I have done, than the things I haven’t done.” This is so important. Regret is one of the worst human emotions.
  • Know what you want. G.I.Joe says, “Knowing is half the battle,” and it really is. Don’t know what you want? That’s okay for now, but it won’t be forever. Sometimes the best way to know what you want is to think backwards. What story do you want to tell 10 years from now? Do you want to talk about how you backpacked across Europe? Or how you interned at the White House? Or how you saved a sub-species of frog in South Africa? Those stories are happening right now. Start writing that story.
  • Choose your life. If you don’t like it, only you can change it, and you have that power every minute of every day. People always think that success is one sweeping choice, but really it’s billions of micro-choices. Both happiness and success are active activities. Don’t wait for them to come to you.
  • Wear shower shoes. Athletes foot is no joke. This actually goes for all kinds of protection…sunscreen, cell phone cases, umbrellas, condoms.
  • Pack towels.
  • Go home only when you need to. And you will need to. But try, as hard as you can, to stick it out through tough times. You never know who you might meet, or who might help you along the way. This goes for the Aunts & Uncles as well.
  • Dress up for your finals. Everyone else will be in yoga pants and hats. When you dress for success, you feel more successful. Perception is reality.
  • Exercise. Your body is meant to be moved. I didn’t exercise enough in college and it’s now a chore. The habits you start in university will plague you throughout your life and exercise is a major one. It’s a stress relief, a natural producer of endorphins, and no one has ever said, “Man, I wish these stairs were harder to climb.”
  • Call your mother. Tell mom you’re okay from time to time. She worries.
  • Harass your professors, they like it.
  • Be young. You’re going to make mistakes. It’s ok. Half of the college experience is unburying yourself from sticky situations. You are really smart, have all the right tools, and a very large support network.
  • Remove the word “like” from your vocabulary.
  • Learn how to footnote. Plagiarism can happen to anyone.
Me and kid sister at my college graduation

Same kid sister at my college graduation. My high school graduation was before digital photography 😬